Leadership: There’s No App For That

I love my iPhone.  I resisted it for a time.  But now I know I can find just about anything I want at anytime of day, right on my phone.  The iPhone and other smart phones feed right into my need for instant gratification.

Our world allows us to find just about everything with just a few touches of a hand held device.  But, a smart phone cannot make us into leaders.

I cannot become a leader by downloading an app.  That seems obvious as I read this.  But, it is not obvious to many companies and individuals I have encountered.

Where’s The App For Leadership?

Once A Year Doesn’t Cut It

“Oh crud!  It’s already July and we haven’t done our annual leadership retreat.  Someone get on the phone and get a venue.  Who can we find to lead it?  We need to do it before the 4th quarter so let’s get this thing knocked out.”

Too often, leadership development is a check the box event for organizations.  It is on the annual calendar and in a chaotic business environment leadership development can be an afterthought.

I have been brought into organizations to lead a retreats in cases like this.  I have also been sitting in the conference room receiving the training.  In both cases, it was obvious that the training was not a priority for anyone in the room.

After the event, there was rarely any follow-up from the leadership.  The good ideas we discussed never got put into practice.  There was never any systematic plan to reinforce the principles that were taught.

An app on my iPhone would have been just as effective.  I could open it up, read it in private, close it and move on to my next task.

Leadership Development Must Be Deliberate

Leadership development needs to be a strategy as important as customer service, increasing productivity, and revenue growth.  In fact, without good leaders, the other three are unlikely.  But companies continually ignore the growth of their leaders and wonder why they aren’t achieving their other goals.

I believe that a company needs to develop a culture of leadership.  If leadership development is expected at all levels, the accomplishment of the other goals is likely.

A team with leaders at every level will always beat a team that only has leaders at the top.  I have written multiple blogs that delve deeper into leadership development:

Leadership Development Must Be Consistent

Don’t get me wrong.  Leadership retreats serve a great purpose.  Getting away from the grind of the office to discuss the bigger issues of leadership is hugely important.  But it can not be a stand alone, one and done event.

To develop a culture of leadership, consistency is needed.  Weekly meetings beginning with a discussion of a leadership topic or article are one way to keep leadership at the forefront and to encourage continuous growth.

Consistency in the communication of these topics and values will do more to develop leaders than any stand alone annual event.

So many companies are talking about succession planning and bench strength.  These are great topics to discuss.  I am willing to bet that the companies that have deep benches and know who their next leaders are, invest in consistent leadership development.

Questions For Planning Leadership Development

After the event:

  • What’s next?
  • Who’s responsible for the follow-up?
  • What materials will reinforce the training?
  • What are each attendee’s action items?
  • How often will we reconvene to check on our progress?

Consistent Development:

  • What values are important to our organization?
  • Who will lead these discussions?
  • How often will we have them?
  • To what regular meetings can we add a 15 minute leadership discussion?
  • What materials are available to add to our discussions?

The Bottom Line:

There is no App that will turn us into leaders.  It is a process that takes time.  Think Crockpot versus a microwave.

There are plenty of Apps available that do provide resources that will aid in our development as leaders.  We can all listen to pod casts of great speakers like John Maxwell or watch You Tube videos by Ken Blanchard or Patrick Lencioni.  There are Apps for that!

But if growing yourself or your team as leaders is your goal, take the time to do it right.  Be deliberate and be consistent.  Otherwise a once a year event is likely a waste of time and money.


What do you believe is another key to developing leaders in your organization?

P.S.  Or you you can join the 750,000 people who have downloaded and listened to IMPACT Talk Radio where I interview leadership gurus on topics like character, hiring, integrity and team building.  Click here:  IMPACT Talk Radio.



3 Responses to “Leadership: There’s No App For That”

  1. Eddie Lau June 16, 2015 at 9:17 pm #

    Hi Nick,
    I like your statement: “A team with leaders at every level will always beat a team that only has leaders at the top”.
    It is so true. For a company to advance forward, it needs to develop its leaders to steer their teams to achieve the company’s goals and successes.
    Of course, there are many ways to develop a culture of leadership. We can adopt the Scrum Master style of ‘huddles’ to discuss leadership topics and issues, include the leadership development programs and succession plans in the company’s strategic planning cycle to ensure leadership talents and strengths are in line with the company’s direction and goals and hire an external Consultant (or ‘anoint’ someone to be accountable for this program) to oversee the leadership development. These, I believe, are the starting points to build a leadership culture.

  2. Gene Bulmer June 17, 2015 at 8:29 pm #

    Great article, Dave.

    I’m in total agreement with your theory of consistency (versus once a year OR “mega” weekend fire-walk experiences that fade within a week or 2). I use LIFE Leadership for my content). The philosophy is small, daily doses of truth…consistently over time produce long lasting results in individuals with a commitment to life-long learning.
    Ironically, and to that end, we DO have an app for that; called Rascal Radio (http://www.rascalradio.info/): a Pandora-like app for drilling down by topic or speaker, for leadership content. No magic, just availability & consistency. That, along with our methodology PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Adjust), forms the basis for our corporate leadership training monthly subscriptions.
    Contact me via Linked-In if you need additional information.

    Gene Bulmer, LIFE Leadership

  3. Melinda Fouts June 29, 2015 at 1:47 pm #

    Dave, I appreciate your blog about leadership. Two items, consistency and values are vital to developing great leaders. I have found that consistency is best achieved through accountability. And that when the leader is clear about their values, share them with the team, model their values and bring about a consensus with the team of the core values, then the team will thrive. Finally, the development of self-awareness is fruitful as it leads to a higher emotional intelligence. Studies support that the higher the emotional intelligence, the more successful and affective the leader will be.

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